What Should We Do
For The Future ?



The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our collective weaknesses in being able to effectively respond to the emergence of a highly contagious and lethal microbial threat. Despite extraordinary advances over the past century in science and unprecedented improvement in global health standards, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, we still live in a world where the threat an infectious agent can emerge without warning and spread rapidly to every household and every community and every household without regard to national borders or to social and economic standing.

Over the course of the remainder of this century, the likely frequency of epidemics and pandemics will continue to increase, driven to a large extent by demographic trends, including urbanization, and environmental degradation and climate change, persistent social and economic inequalities, and globalized trade and travel. The burden of these diseases is not equally distributed across the world; the economically disenfranchised, displaced populations and people living with pre-existing conditions are disproportionately impacted.

Importantly, the drivers underlying the emergence of novel disease threats are complex human behaviors and their impact on animal populations and the environment are understood to be central to their emergence. Changing environmental and climatic conditions have been closely linked to the emergence of novel infectious diseases and the redistribution of those already existing. Their aggregate impact will continue to increase over the course of this century.

While the upgrading of the health security apparatus over the last decade has been welcomed COVID-19 underscores that these processes and institutional arrangements are not sufficient to responding to events like SARS-COV 2. Compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005), that provide a normative framework for surveillance, preparedness, notification and international support and coordination has also been shown to be inadequate. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores that new efforts need to be made to craft global strategies, policies and regulatory frameworks that more directly address the multi-sectoral aspects of disease emergence in order to improve our collective capacities to prevent, detect and respond to threats. Key is strengthening key multi-sectoral systems, increasing policy coherence, including in health technologies access and innovation, and reducing risks of new disease threats.

The failure of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, is not simply about the virus’s biology and its ecology, nor the inadequacies of our multi-sectoral partnerships. The erosion of support over the past decade for multilateral institutions and partnerships, a growing mistrust between citizens and their leaders, and the rise of “anti-science” have further complicated the ability of nations to mount an effective coordinated global response to global events like COVID-19. We need to thoughtfully examine the causes underlying these trends, including the expanding impact of social media, if we are to understand their contributions to the failure of an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and based on this insight develop new strategies to re-invigorate our commitment to multilateral partnerships, build more trustful relationships between governments and their citizens, and re-affirm the centrality of evidence-based solutions to future threats.

In the face of such challenges, we need a unified global action plan that

  • Is built on a bold multilateral vision that embraces a commitment to address the multi-sectoral threats posed by emerging infectious diseases.
  • is fully aligned and reinforcing of the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including to leave no one behind.
  • facilitates full, universal and sustained compliance with the International Health Regulations of 2005.
  • aggressively adopts strategies and approaches that recognize that our responses need to be as multisectoral as the forces underlying the emergence of new viral and microbial threats.
  • removes the political, professional and cultural barriers, as well as the obstacles inherent within social, economic and political processes, that silo human health, animal health and the environmental sectors from effective multi-sectoral partnership, and at the same time reaches across the public and private sectors to fully harness their collective power for change.
  • invests in building an evidence -base to improve our understanding of the drivers of diseases emergence, including climate change, environmental degradation and urbanization, and for tracking progress towards bringing control of these threats under control.
  • reaches across the public and private sectors and civil society to fully harness their collective power for change, and invests in research to develop new, affordable, available and more effective countermeasures and health technologies to prevent, diagnose, treat and minimize the impact of these threats ensuring a full public return on public investments.
  • invests in research and development to develop new and more effective countermeasures to minimize the impact of these threats.
  • invests in strengthening the multi-sectoral systems required for the prevention, early detection and effective response and treatment to emerging infectious disease threats and anti-microbial resistance. The achievement of universal health coverage acknowledges these as fundamental.
  • builds a workforce in all relevant fields, including in health, agriculture, food production and environmental sectors, that demonstrates the core competencies necessary tothe future challenges posed by these emerging threats.
  • invests in the policies and financial resources essential to empower this workforce to be effective.
  • realizes inclusive partnerships spanning global, regional, national-and community stakeholders that ensure strong coordinated and equitable action.

“Investing In The Future: Ensuring The World Will Never Be Vulnerable To Another “COVID-19” Threat“ will focus its webinar Sessions on addressing five critical questions

  • What are the multi-sectoral systems and capacities required to “prevent, detect and respond” to future emerging threats?
  • What policies, partnerships and investments are required to enable the success of these capabilities?
  • How do we ensure that all populations have equitable access to critical, life-saving interventions?
  • How do we make sure we build systems that are able to cope with future trends that will likely disrupt the worlds social, political and economic dynamics?
  • How to maximally invest in advances in science and technologies to accelerate our ability to “prevent, detect and respond” to future threats
Updated: Jul 17, 2020